Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Secret Garden Embroidery: Leaf Order Comparison


Amazon Books

Lat time we looked at progress on the Secret Garden embroidery project, we chatted about the order of stitching the many leaf clusters in the design.

Here’s the outcome of stitching two similar leaf clusters following a different order of stitching for each, placing the leaves in a different overlapping arrangement.

Secret Garden Embroidery Project: Leaf Clusters

The leaf cluster on the left is arranged so that the leaves “fan out” over each other. For the leaf cluster on the right, there are two overlapping leaves in the back of the cluster and the two front leaves overlap the two back leaves pretty much equally.

In the scheme of things, you can tell that the clusters are different, but they’re not all that different. I think I prefer the cluster on the left – but that’s because I prefer the shading on the farthest left leaf on the left cluster, compared to the same leaf on the right. The shading is softer on the left cluster.

I doubt I will unpick the left leaf on the right cluster. But, then again… I just might. But I’ll leave it for a while to see how it grows on me!

Secret Garden Embroidery Project: Leaf Clusters

This is the last full shot I took of the project so far. I’ve done a little more stitching since then, but not much – lots of little interruptions the last ten days, plus developing some new content for you, including a wee side project.

Good thing it’s Monday! I love starting the new week!

If you’re following along with the Secret Garden project, where are you and how’s it going? Have you gone beyond the vines and leaves yet? Remember that you can always simplify the embroidery, which would move it along at a much quicker pace!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Have your say below!

If you’d like to follow along with the Secret Garden Embroidery Project, you can find all the information pertaining to this project, including resources, materials, and stitching tips, in the Secret Garden Project Index.


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(31) Comments

  1. I definitely prefer the leaf cluster on the left; feels better.

    Overall, I love this embroidery project and there’s so much to learn from it. I’ve been keeping copies of each installment so that I can work on a similar project (from the book) at a later time (when I’m finished with my current project — yes, I’m compulsive about finishing one at a time).

    1. Hi, Elissa – it can be one big leaf – just depends on how you interpret it. I split up these multi-pointed leaves into clusters, to make them easier to stitch and to give a little more life to them. But you can certainly work them as one leaf, if you want!

  2. Hello,

    I have japanese flat silk for embriodery please let me know how to twist and how to use ,how many strands would make thread?

  3. I just love it so far!! Outlining the lives in the soft mustard stem stitch just lifts it all up…really clever Mary! Simply love it.

  4. I purposefully will stitch differences into mirrored objects. To me, it adds a small bit of interest. I have found though that judges and the like don’t see it as a conscience choice, is there a way to let people know that is intended or is it really better to stitch those motifs the same throughout the canvas? Tthoroughly enjoy your blog and refer my stitching group often, thanks

  5. The Secret Garden is going to be so beautiful! I love, love all the shades of green…and I like the leaf cluster on the left. I sure do wish you would write a book with all of your tips in it. I would be your first customer.

  6. Dear Mary

    I like both the different ways you have stitched the leaves on the right and the leaves on the left, they give a different style but are both pretty. The photograph of the whole project is really lovely and the overall stitching is really striking, I hope you manage to get more stitching done this week would love to see your progress. Thanks for showing us the updated project.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  7. Hi Mary
    I am working on some of the leaves also varying the shading and order of leaves but have decided (well I think I have decided!) that the largish paisley shapes hanging down at the top are going to be flowers – think I need to do some colour going, spring has arrived here (UK) after a very wet but mild winter and we are blessed with drifts of daffodils, blossom and magnolia flowers 🙂 I am looking forward to your choices but ……. how are we going to do the birds ???
    Thanks again for your generosity in sharing your skills – have you any idea how many of us are stitching along with you ?

  8. Oh perfect Monday, a Secret Garden update! I missed this lovely project so much last week. I think both leaf clusters are nice, but my OCD thinks everything must look identical. Truly, I wish I could get over it, but it hasn’t happened in 30 years and four days. (sigh)

    That said, I don’t like one over the other, so I don’t know which I would pick out, if it were me.

  9. having a background in watercolors the shading seems to have to much contrast for me. When I look at the full design the dark shading really stands out. Maybe when everything is finished it will blend in better.

  10. I agree with you. I like the leaf cluster on the left. When I stitch mine, I think I will do the left one like yours and then do the mirror image on the right cluster.

  11. Mary…you asked how anyone was doing on this project…and I am doing! I am not as far along as you are with the leaves and vines. I find that I am happy to read your postings, then I think about them for a while, and then I try out the ideas that you have shared. I have never done anything this large or complicated before! I am having lots of fun. Thanks for all of the ideas, descriptions, explanations, and inspiration!

    Stitchingly yours,

  12. Marie,
    Personally, I love the apparent symmetry of the group leaves while being different, so subtlety very smooth. Really nice and especially my eye is drawn to the dark green. Really beautiful and good lesson for us.
    Full of thanks.

  13. I fell in love with this project and already bought the book. Will buy the fabric with birthday money later this month. I can’t wait to join everyone and start on this. 🙂
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  14. I am working on the waterwell circle. I have not added any of the leaves yet, but I have begun working on parts of the well itself that are behind some of the leaves and vines. My goal is to work from the back to the front, at least as much as possible.

    For fun, I have also added a few of the flowers in the gravel at the base of the well, using Threadworx cotton floss in “shade” 1154 to maintain the whimsy of the piece. The “gravel” will be done with beads, mostly very small ones, in shades of tans and greys.

    At each step the thoughts you have been sharing with us are being uncorporated, much to the benefit of the work.

  15. Hi Mary,

    I am still working on the vines. Got a little side tracked (finishing my grandson’s quilt). If you can would you include more close up pictures of your progress. I find them very helpful as I am such a visual person. I am keeping all of your updates in a binder so I can refer back to them. For some reason this project is hard for me. I am ripping out more than I stitch!

    Barbara La Belle

  16. This is looking luscious! Both leaf clusters look great but it really will depend on how you work the rest of the embroidery. Your stitching is perfect, but for a mere mortal like me it’s wise to avoid attempting perfect symmetry because I can’t achieve it – and it shows.

  17. I want to get started on this SOOOOO bad. I bought the book last week. Took a while to get the $$ for it. I should be able to get the linen soon. Meanwhile I’m loving seeing every stitch you post. I have followed your blog for quite a while, but this project made me get the book and order the linen. I like the little differences on left and right sides. You put a lot of work and a lot of thought into your blog – THANK YOU.

  18. Hi Mary,

    I prefer the L leaf, as it seems softer and easier on the eye. I , too, am keeping tabs as you sew. I have purchased the book, and a variety of beautiful Japanese silks in greens. Looking forward to the next colr palettes.

    I have a question that perhaps was answered in another blog, so forgive me is I repeat myself. Can you tell me what frame you are using to work this piece ?

    It appears to be a system 4 frame. I prefer a very tight piece of fabric, and hope the System 4 keeps the material as taut as possible.

    Thanks and happy stitching.

    1. The Needlework System 4 stand is what I’m using to hold the Evertite Stretcher Bar frame that the fabric is mounted on. I’m using the tabletop version of the stand. The NWS4 doesn’t come with the actual frame that you mount the fabric on. It is a stand, and there are different components to it, depending on what kind of frame you use. For stretcher bar frames, you’d want to get the frame clamp. I use stretcher bar frames (Evertite) for mounting projects like this. But I also like slate frames and the Millenium frame, although it is harder to come by. I think I use Evertites most often, and the NWS4 works great with them.

  19. Kinda wish we could zoom in on the pics but other wise they look wonderful haven’t started yet but can wait to try out this project

  20. I am thinking of using some overdyes or rayons or metallics in this project. Thinking the shiny green rayons I have, might be nice on the leaves. Metallics might look great on the humming birds when we get to that.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  21. Lovely Mary, as usual. I’ve been following this and although it is certainly gorgeous, it’s too much for me to tackle at this point. I have too many WIP’s as it is. Yesterday I was in a wonderful little shop called A Stitch Above. In case any of you are still looking for it, she carries the ENTIRE line of Floche and she does mail order. While I was there I was looking at a table/lap stand that would hold hoops, stretcher bars and scroll frames. It is fully adjustable and goes out really wide. While we were looking at it we started playing with it and realized that the uprights could be reversed and would then be able to hold small hoops too. It’s not on her website and I don’t remember the name of it but I know Dawn would know. If you’re interested you can contact her website http://www.astitch-above.com/

    As always Mary, your knowledge and skill is astonishing and I eagerly look forward to every post.

    Sharyn in Cincinnati

  22. Hello Mary,

    Please let me know how to use japanese flat silk for embriodery do we need to twist before using? As its becoming a mess while using ,even though the colours are beautiful

  23. j’aimerais tellement broder le secret garden, mais je ne sais pas ou trouver le pattern et dans quel livre si necessaire. Help!!! You can answer in English if you prefer. Thank you in advance for your answer. Have nice Easter Holyday

  24. Hi Mary,

    I really like u r work and feel u have magical fingers.

    Do u take personal classes ,have u thought of visiting osaka .?

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